‘UNBEARABLE’: Jewish students sue Pennsylvania college for cultivating anti-Semitic atmosphere on campus

The lawsuit alleges that Haverford College allowed and encouraged anti-Semitism to run rampant on the campus, creating a pervasive atmosphere of fear for Jewish students.

Some students allegedly claimed that ‘Jews exaggerate the Holocaust,’ and a Haverford professor celebrated the Oct. 7 massacre, calling it ‘a historic moment to be recorded in the history books.’

Jewish students at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, supported by alumni and others, have sued the institution over accusations of anti-Semitism.

The Deborah Project, which is representing the plaintiffs, accused the school of “maintaining — and even supporting — a hostile environment for Jews.”

The complaint, filed on May 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that “Haverford has become an illiberal institution fixated on appeasing the demands of anti-Israel students and faculty.”

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“As a result of Haverford’s capture by a fervently antisemitic anti-Israel faction, students and even tenured faculty who engage in public expression of pro-Israel viewpoints are penalized through formal investigations and other disciplinary measures, as well as through informal but pervasive stigmatization, harassment, and bullying campaigns,” the Deborah Project wrote. 

According to the lawsuit, the anti-Semitic atmosphere present on campus led to Jewish students being afraid to “speak Hebrew in public,” and made them “agonize over how to suppress identifiably Jewish proclivities, gestures, or expressions, lest they be exposed as insufficiently Israel-hating Jews.”

“Nearly all of these Jewish students engage in agitated consideration every day about whether, wherever they are going on Haverford’s campus to class, to the library, to a meal or to meet a friend— they are going to be met with attacks on them and the basic tenets of their religion,” the lawsuit continued. 

One Jewish student alleged hearing other students saying “Jews exaggerate the Holocaust.”

The lawsuit also cites numerous events held by Haverford with a strong anti-Israel bias, saying the school “[h]osted a weeklong series of events at which the Jewish State was accused of intentionally poisoning Arabs with Covid; at which they showed the movie ‘Jenin, Jenin,’ a film whose producer has acknowledged that it contains false accusations about the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces; and hosted an event at which Israel is described as a country with an explicit policy of maiming Palestinians rather than killing them-so that Israel can subjugate the Palestinian people.” 

As the lawsuit states, in another instance, Haverford Professor Tarik Aougab expressed solidarity with “Palestinian resistance” and reposted a post on X regarding Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of Jews in Israel that said “[w]e should never have to apologize for celebrating these scenes of an imprisoned people breaking free from their chains. This was a historic moment to be recorded in the history books.” 

The Deborah Project also accused Haverford of having double standards regarding its hate speech policy, saying that the institution accepts “[h]ate speech about Jews and Israel,” but that “anything that might conceivably be understood as hate speech about any other minority group as defined by the recipient minority group-is not tolerated, even when such speech would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment.”

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Deborah Project Legal Director Lori Lowenthal Marcus stated that Jewish students sought in vain a redress of their grievances before filing the lawsuit: “The Jews at Haverford College—like Jews everywhere—were in terrible pain this year, but what was inflicted on them by their own classmates, their professors and Haverford’s administrative leadership made their academic lives unbearable. And while so many of Haverford’s Jews stood up on their hind legs and repeatedly attempted to get the leadership to do the right thing and fulfill their legal obligations, all were met with deaf ears.”

Campus Reform has reached out to Haverford College for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.